In the Merrimack Valley: “We Are Lawrence”

The New York Times just yesterday featured a story about a group of Lawrence, Massachusetts residents who have come together to strategize about how to tell the “other side of the story” – to work out a plan to change the prevailing image of the city.  Boston Magazine recently labeled Lawrence a “god-forsaken city.” While not denying the problems, the members of “We Are Lawrence” want to tell stories of success and hope, embrace education, highlight history and encourage community activism.

So on a recent Friday afternoon, several dozen residents gathered at a refurbished mill, ready to draw up a battle plan for a war of words and actions that they hope will help reshape Lawrence’s battered image.

“We need to be ready, willing and able,” Eduardo Crespo, a public relations professional and longtime resident, said to the diverse group. “Anyone for press releases? Community relations?”

The effort is an attempt to retell the city’s story as a tale of hope and success alongside its difficulties, using conventional public relations, social media and small civic projects. But the first challenge of the campaign, which is called We Are Lawrence, may be ensuring that its message resonates at home in the face of the city’s street-level reality…

“It’s going to create conscience, little by little,” Ana Medina, a school administrator who is part of We Are Lawrence, said of the cash mob and efforts like it. “We have been told for so long that our city is not great, but it has been great to all of us. It’s time for us to say that our city is great.”

Read Jesse Bidgood’s full article here at